Bharti Airtel is strengthening its telecom network as it prepares for the government’s auction of airwaves in March, said the company’s managing director and chief executive officer on Thursday.
“We would love to have a full footprint of sub gigahertz spectrum in the country…would look at capacity (expanding spectrum portfolio) and renewal (of licenses) in the upcoming auctions,” said Gopal Vittal, in the company’s post-earnings call.
The government has offered 2,251 megahertz (MHz) airwaves in the auction and hopes to fetch Rs 3.92 trillion. The coveted 5G spectrum has been kept out. The last spectrum auction was held in October 2016 and the government earned Rs 65,789 crore.
Using its existing liberalised spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, Bharti Airtel recently demonstrated Live 5G service over a commercial network in Hyderabad. Airtel said that its customers will get full 5G experience when spectrum is available and government approval is received.
“The ecosystem for 5G is still in the nascent stage but it is improving as the 5G enabled devices contributed 4-5% of the shipment in December as compared to nil in September,” said Vittal, who manages India & South Asia, adding that there will be more shipments for 5G in the next 12 months.
Bharti Airtel on Wednesday bounced back by reporting a net profit of Rs 854 crore, after six quarters, for the third quarter ended December 31, 2020, helped mainly by a robust addition in its user base.
Total revenues of the company stood at Rs 26,518 crore, up 24.2% from last year. The company's revenues were Rs 21344 crore a year ago. The revenues rose mainly on account of higher customer addition and increased data consumption.
The average revenue per user (ARPU), an important matrix to gauge the telecom firm's performance, rose to Rs 166 from Rs 135, a year ago. Mobile revenues grew by 32.4% YoY on account of the improved realizations as well as strong customer addition.
The company’s India revenues rose 25.1 per cent to Rs 19,007 crore and its mobile services India revenues rose 32.4 per cent YoY.
According to the official statement, 4G data customers increased by 33.8% YoY to 165.6 Mn compared to the previous year. Over the last 4 quarters, the company has added 42 million 4G customers to its network.
As far as the post-paid user base is concerned, the company has said it sees a strong traction in the segment as it added 700,000 post-paid customers this quarter.
Homes business segment witnessed a revenue growth of 2.3% YoY with highest ever customer additions of 215,000 during the quarter to reach a total base of 2.79 million. We re-calibrated our offering and launched Xstream bundles with content and unlimited internet to accelerate penetration. The company continued to scale up the LCO partnership model to expand its footprint in non-wired cities, extending the model to over 120 cities.
The Net Debt-EBITDA ratio (annualized) and including the impact of leases as on December 31, 2020 is at 3.03 times as compared to 3.40 times as on December 31, 2019. Excluding pending Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues, the Net Debt-EBITDA ratio (annualized) is at 2.52 times as on December 31, 2020, the official statement said.
The current net debt of the company stands at Rs 1.25 trillion.